1925: Hallmark year
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society.The year 1925 was a hallmark in Aspen history, as it marked the birth of two people who ended up figuring prominently in the community:Leon Uris, 1925-2003Leon Uris first drove up Loveland Pass in a biting December snowstorm. He arrived at our lodge past midnight, ashen-faced and trembling. But Lee was a tough ex-Marine who’d fought his way across Guadalcanal, so he was soon up to his neck in heights, snow and skiing. For some years he had his office at The Heatherbed and drove his motorcycle from town to write best-selling books and take breathers splitting our firewood. He mixed his Hollywood/New York lives with ours, often hilariously. He loved kids – within limits. When he and my husband took the Aspen Jr. Ski Team to Colorado Springs for a meet, Guido Meyer Jr. threw up all over the upholstery in his new Chrysler. Then the men spent the night cornering small boys scattered like leaves in a hurricane. After that, he donated cash. He was brilliant, sometimes difficult, a world-class practical joker and owned a heart as big as a barn. We’ll never forget him.- Martie SterlingWerner Kuster, 1925-presentWerner Kuster arrived in Aspen to act as the new Hotel Jerome chef in 1949. Almost immediately, city clerk Louise Berg drafted him into the U.S. Army so a local boy wouldn’t have to go. “But,” she assured him, “you’ll be an instant citizen.”Because his feet were too small for regulation army boots, he rousted 10th Army Division mules in his own brown and white cordovans. Other recruits, thinking he was German, made the “damned Kraut’s” life miserable.Later, as owner of the world-famous Red Onion, he hosted kings and tycoons, movie stars, down-on-their luck miners and free-loading ski teams with equal aplomb. When Steve Knowlton’s Golden Horn floor show threatened his business, Werner imported a monkey and a parrot. The parrot, Gertie, lives on, ancient now. The monkey, Jo-Jo, broke into the wine cellar, cracked open bottles and drank himself to death.Werner’s pockets and his heart were as big as he is small. He gave to every cause, served on many councils. Today he’s an inimitable raconteur of old times in Aspen. He could take his act “on the road.”- Martie Sterling
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